The NBA Summer League is three tournaments built to give young players a chance for court time and for others to showcase their skills in the hope of being rewarded with an NBA roster spot.
With the extraordinary number of Australians, New Zealanders and folks with an Australian connection participating in this year’s Summer League, it’s only natural to keep tabs on these players to gauge how they’re going.
It’s halfway through the Utah Summer League, and a little over the halfway mark of the Orlando Summer League so here is how the competitors from this region are faring:
Mangok Mathiang – Charlotte Hornets
After spending four years under Rick Pitino at the University of Louisville where his numbers increased every year, it’s no surprise to the see the 24-year-old from Melbourne on a Summer League roster.
After a quickfire six rebounds in only ten minutes, he was rewarded with more minutes in his second game and then even more in the third. He put the extra court time to good use, putting up eight points and grabbing four boards against the Thunder.
— NBA (@NBA) July 4, 2017
Mathiang is equal second on the team in rebounding at nearly five per contest and with one more game tomorrow against Detroit; he’ll be doing everything he possibly can to secure a roster spot.
Vs. Miami – 10 minutes, 3 points, six rebounds
Vs. Indiana – 15 minutes, 3 points, four rebounds, one assist
Vs. Oklahoma City – 21 minutes, 8 points, four rebounds, one block
Tai Webster – Charlotte Hornets
Fortunately for Webster, he has two opportunities to strut his stuff in the Summer League as he is suiting up for the Hornets in the Orlando Summer League and the Warriors in the Las Vegas Summer League.
Unfortunately, the New Zealand representative and former Nebraska Cornhusker hasn’t seen any court time in Charlotte’s three Summer League games, but hopefully, he can get on the floor for the team’s final game against Detroit tomorrow.
Vs. Miami – Did not play
Vs. Indiana – Did not play
Vs. Oklahoma City – Did not play
Marcus Thornton – Oklahoma City Thunder
The former Sydney King has been travelling the world after his stint in the 2015/16 NBL season, going back to the USA to play in the D-League and then moving on to Italy to play with former NBL MVP winner Rotnei Clarke at Consultinvest Pesaro.
This experience hasn’t translated onto the Summer League court, as Thornton has been given only cameo minutes, and he hasn’t made the most of them. He is currently field goal-less at 0/4, with his solitary point coming from the foul line.
The Thunder has one game left in their Summer League against Dallas tomorrow, with Thornton praying that he gets more court time and can show the skills that made the Boston Celtics draft him in the 2015 NBA draft.
Vs. Detroit – 5 minutes, one assist, one steal
Vs. New York – 5 minutes, one assist
Vs. Charlotte – 12 minutes, 1 point, two rebounds, one assist, one steal
Terrance Ferguson – Oklahoma City Thunder
In what could only be classed as a clerical error, the Thunder’s first round draft pick will not be suiting up to play in the Summer League. This is because international players are “required to get a letter of clearance from the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) in order to play”, and unlucky for Ferguson, Thunder fans and Australian fans, he hasn’t received this letter yet.
Neither Ferguson or the team have a timeline for when they will receive this letter, so it’s likely that he won’t play in Oklahoma City’s final game tomorrow.
Vs. Detroit – Did not play
Vs. New York – Did not play
Vs. Charlotte – Did not play
Jonah Bolden – Philadelphia 76ers
It’s only been one Summer League game, but Australians are already getting themselves into a frenzy after Bolden’s electric performance against Boston.
He may have only shot 4/10 from the field but the way he ran the floor, used his body and protected the rim on his way to four blocks caused the hype train to leave the station at high speed.
Jonah Bolden was really damn good last night. It’s just SL, but I had my man 12th on my big board. Really like him: https://t.co/JAfKhDAmR2
— Mike O’Connor (@MOConnor_NBA) July 4, 2017
The 76ers have two more games left in the Summer League with the exciting matchup between Bolden’s Sixers and Dante Exum’s Jazz tomorrow. It may be a crowded front court in Philadelphia, but if he keeps up this exciting brand of basketball, he will be in the mix for a roster spot come NBA season.
Vs. Boston – 22 minutes, 9 points, four rebounds, four blocks
Dante Exum – Utah Jazz
Another player who had an outstanding first game of this year’s Summer League, Exum has a lot of expectation coming into his third NBA season.
After a lacklustre first two seasons which sandwiched a whole year where he did not play due to injury, Exum had a point to prove in Utah’s game against San Antonio.
— Utah Jazz (@utahjazz) July 4, 2017
He started out like a house on fire and finished with a game-high five assists and was +24, the highest for the game and looked more confident than ever from the first tip.
The Jazz plays the Sixers tomorrow and then Boston the day after, and then off to Las Vegas for three games so expect Exum to continue his aggressive play and it should carry on through to the regular season.
Vs. San Antonio – 27 minutes, 18 points, six rebounds, five assists, one steal
Mitch Creek – Utah Jazz
The former Adelaide 36ers captain didn’t get any court time for Utah against the Spurs, but that doesn’t seem to have dampened his spirits. Judging by his Facebook page, he hasn’t taken off his Utah Jazz apparel and is enjoying his time in Utah and learning from some of the best in the game.
Vs. San Antonio – Did not play
Nathan Sobey – Utah Jazz
Creek’s Adelaide teammate didn’t play in Utah’s opening game because of ‘general soreness’ and will miss their second game against Philadelphia. General soreness is a vague term so hopefully, it’s nothing more than the added intensity of an NBA team compared to the NBL.
Nathan Sobey (general soreness) is not expected to play in Utah’s game tomorrow vs PHI. Hopes to be right to play BOS on Friday (Aus time).
— Liam Santamaria (@Liam_Santa) July 5, 2017
Vs. San Antonio – Did not play
With another week of games and plenty more Australians coming up on the schedule, it’s a fantastic time to be an Australian basketball fan.